Yes, I have returned!
New York Stories
Some funny stuff and a Big Picture Conference recap.
Mean Fiddler Pub for Patriots vs. Jets
I arrived in NYC on Sunday and settled in to my room. The City is so fast and high energy I was a bit overwhelmed. Luckily my good friend David Batista was game for meeting up with me and showing me around New York! We walked past Times Square (so many people!) and eventually settled in at The Mean Fiddler Pub to watch most of the Patriots vs. Jets game. Crowd was disappointed as Patriots beat up Jets. I was not really watching as getting to know David was way more fun. Had a few beers and then grabbed some NYC pizza. Thanks David for meeting up and for being a good friend. I will be back again.
Lunch Time and Funny Story Number 1
On Monday I had the extreme pleasure of meeting up with Josh Brown for lunch at mid day. Also was lucky to meet Julian Hebron (The Basis Point) as well. I left to meet them at 12:30 with plenty of time to spare and was about two streets away when the biggest Columbus Day parade I have ever seen closed down 5th avenue! I had to fast walk down 7 streets to be able to cross, then come all the way back up. I was a few minutes late, but who could have known? Lunch was great and the discussion was very good. Thanks Josh and Julian!
Funny Story Number 2
The Big Picture Conference was on Tuesday. Registration was at 8am and the show started at 8:30. I got up early (6am) and got my stuff together to go. At last minute I pulled up the NY Athletic Club website (the location of conference) and of course for the first time I noticed the "dress code" button. Shit. I knew this was bad. Checked and of course you MUST have a jacket to get into the building! I did not pack one, it was like 84 degrees and I figured business casual. I called and the man on the phone was adamant about the jacket requirement. Uh oh.
Started searching for clothing stores near my hotel that opened at 8am. Only 1: Brooks Brothers! I took off to make sure I was there at 8am. On the third floor I explained my situation to the totally awesome sales man Michael. He said not to worry. I got this really nice sports jacket in 5 minutes at the low price of.....$400. Yikes, but I like the coat and I was good to go to the conference.
The Big Picture Conference Recap
This was a closed conference so I will not go ever every detail. I have 9 pages of hand written notes but this is a quick run down.
Catherine runs the site Visualizing Economics. She presented serious eye candy charts and diagrams which covered income in the United States, job growth/declines, and what was moving and by how much employment wise. A top notch level of work and it was very impressive.
Paul Brodsky co-manages QB Asset Management. His big picture (pun intended!) view is well thought out. Loved the discussion of the concept of how much actual currency there is versus how many claims on that same money exist. It's a factor of almost 20X. This brings up my endless talk about the notional view of money. There was much, much more but I would leave it with his idea that he does not need to promote gold, central banks are doing that all by themselves. Classic.
The host himself and author of The Big Picture. We were treated to plenty of important mental aspects of trading including herding, group think, recency effects, and more. Spoke about how people rely on and prefer stories or narratives instead of looking at data. Thought provoking stuff.
Joe Saluzzi and Sal Arnuk
Partners for Themis Trading, this presentation was very important. Both men went over the structure of the market as it ties in with HFT trading. Pointed out that the NYSE does not really do trades anymore, but instead sell orders and information for profit. They covered SMART routing and the role of Dark Pools. Fascinating stuff and I have copious notes to go through from this section.
Markets and New Media
Moderated by Kelly Evans, the panel was Josh Brown, Joe Wiesenthal, Dan Gross, and Todd Harrison. Josh thought that social media is a perfect fit for finance. Dan Gross noted that it allows faster and cheaper transmission of information but also noted that republishing without credit is an issue for writers/services that rely on ad revenue. That is an issue. Todd Harrison notes that Minyanville (and everyone) have to respond to innovations to keep up pace. Wiesenthal remarked on news feeds he follows, and I have seen Joe Tweeting at 4am with the latest news. We also learn that Josh Brown wants to be the blogging Walter Cronkite.
Market Turmoil Panel
Some big guns here. Moderated by Aaron Task (whom I used to read a decade ago on TheStreet.com!) and featuring Kevin Lane, Peter Boockvar, and John Roque.
Task really went right for it asking for best ideas form each panel member. Roque felt that the recent rally had legs to get higher near term. Boockvar was very honest and said looking out 2 months he is not sure what will happen (me neither, nobody does!). Great talk about correlation. Panel felt that at a real low, correlation will go down across all asset classes. Gold was strongly favored by Roque. Solid talk about US Treasury market being manipulated by FED so it's not the same indicator it once was. There was a ton more but that's a good taste.
Leader of Arbor Research, James Bianco was LIGHTS OUT! Correlation between assets is because they all share the SAME fundamental now, trillion dollar bailouts with no end. Mentions the importance of "Thrust Days" (9:1 ration of up stocks to down and vice versa). Usually 1 every three years, there have been 12 since this past summer!
Notes that spending on the 2007-2011 crisis has been 6 times bigger than any previous crisis (wow!). Bianco believes the FED cannot raise rates anytime soon, and he means years not quarters. I have plenty more notes but those are some bullets.
Cult of Personality
Josh Brown moderated this panel including James Altucher, Howard Lindzon, and Henry Blodget. Altucher leads off with an outrageous statement! I tweeted "WTF did @jaltucher just say!" but he makes it work. Lindzon makes it clear he will tweet for a money as long as it's the right price (kidding Howard!). Blodget recounts how hard it was to get a second chance in the business. Altucher says honesty is the absolute best way to keep and build credibility. F - bombs were flying as well. A lively panel!
Fireside Chat with Doug Kass
Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners joined Barry Ritholtz for an extended question and answer session. Kass covered the 10 points he watched to think the 2009 market bottom was real, a huge call. Asked about his stance that technical analysis was "voodoo" Kass answered that it's 10 times more important to see that fundamentals lead charts to where they go, except at inflection points. I don't agree with that sentiment, especially now with so many technicians using them.
Kass notes that no new money coming into market; it's a bathtub that is losing water with all the splashing around which was a great analogy. He brings up the concept of "Screwflation" again. Kass notes that opportunistic traders will do better than buy them and forget it types for a while.
During lunch I got to meet and talk with James Altucher for a bit. I wished his wife Claudia well in her fight against Lyme disease. James is a class act, thanks James!
After all that, it was time for a little party at The Dream Hotel at the roof top bar.
I got to hang out with Phil Pearlman (thanks man, you rule!), Robert Sinn (he is so tall!), JC Parets (great tips on using multiple time frames for charts, thanks!), and the young gun Swoon (nice bringing charts to the party for everyone to review, too funny bro!). I finally got to meet Barry Ritholtz and amazingly he knew who I was and remembered a tweet I sent him about this sick as all get out Corvette.
Everything has to end and people filtered out after a while to go get dinner and what not. I realized two things; I had only eaten half a turkey sandwich at lunch and I had perhaps had a few too many wobbly pops with the boys. I was not feeling all that great and my phone battery died so I went back to the hotel to settle down and get ready to leave. I am mega pissed because I missed a chance to meet up with a long time influence of mine, Kevin Depew of Minyanville. I will try again Kevin!
Had a great time but always great to come home.
Have a great night.